5 Things to Know About Real ID in Illinois

Illinois residents have begun seeing advertisements for the new policies regarding Real ID cards, and there are a lot of questions that they likely have about the new program.

What is a Real ID, exactly? What do I need to get one? Why do I need to get one? We have answers to those questions and more in our 5 Things to Know About Real ID.

What is a Real ID, and how is it different from my driver’s license now?

The Real ID Act is not a new law, having been passed by Congress in 2005, but after years of court battles and extensions, the new law will soon change the way that Illinois residents get into federally-controlled facilities or fly on aircraft.

The law was designed to make identification cards more secure and harder to duplicate or forge, and was part of the recommendations issued by the 9/11 Commission.

Real ID cards will allow bearers to fly on domestic flights and to visit federal facilities, and an Illinois driver’s license without a gold star in the top right corner will not be accepted as identification for those purposes beginning next year.

Illinois driver’s licenses are now compliant with the act as of January. If you have gotten a new driver’s license in that time, and if it has a gold star on it, then it is compliant with the law.  

Who will need a Real ID card?

If you fly on domestic flights or visit federal facilities, you will need a Real ID-compliant identification beginning next year. Residents are reminded that they can still use a United States passport for flying or for visiting federal facilities after that deadline passes, but would have to use that passport instead of a non-compliant driver’s license.

What is the deadline to apply for a Real ID card?

Fortunately for travellers and residents, the cards will not be needed until Oct. 1, 2020, so there is still plenty of time to obtain one.

What will I need to apply for a Real ID card?

A Real ID card will cost the same as a driver’s license ($30) or a state ID ($20).

In order to get a Real ID, residents will be required to visit a driver’s services facility and provide documents that prove their identity, their Social Security number, a written signature, and two documents that show proof of residency.

-For proof of identity, a passport, a U.S. birth certificate, an employment authorization document, or a permanent resident card will be accepted.

-Residents will also need to provide proof of their Social Security number. A Social Security card, a W-2, or a pay stub with a Social Security number on it will be accepted.

-Residency documentation will also be required, so residents will need to provide at least two proofs of residency. Those can include a utility bill, a rental agreement, a deed/title, or a bank statement.

-Residents will need to provide proof of signature. A credit or debit card, a canceled check, or a current Illinois driver’s license or ID can be used for proof of signature.

After providing those documents, residents will receive a temporary paper ID at the facility (although residents are reminded that the TSA will NOT accept that paper ID), and will receive their new ID in the mail within 15 business days.

When I receive a Real ID card, can I renew it by mail?

Residents will not be able to renew their Real ID cards by mail. You must visit a driver’s services facility to renew your card.

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